Elements Used in Logical Data Models in Software

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Elements Used in Logical Data Models
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Alphanumeric
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All data models contain alphanumeric data: any data in a string format, whether it is alphabetic characters or numbers (as long as they do not participate in mathematic operations) For example, names, addresses, and phone numbers are all string, or alphanumeric, types of data The actual data types used for alphanumeric information are char, nchar, varchar, and nvarchar As you can probably tell from the names, all these char data types store character data, such as letters, numbers, and special symbols For all these data types, you specify a length Generally, the length is the total number of characters that the specified attribute can contain If you are creating an attribute to contain abbreviations of US state names, for example, you might choose to specify that the attribute is a char(2) This defines the attribute as an alphanumeric field that contains exactly two characters; char data types store exactly as many characters as they are defined to hold, no more and no less, no matter how much data is inserted You probably noticed that there are four kinds of char data types: two with a prefix of var, and two with an n prefix (one of which contains both prefixes) The var prefix means that a variable-length field is being specified A variable-length field is defined as a field having no more than the number of characters specified in the length designation To contrast char with varchar, specifying char(10) results in a field that contains ten characters, even if a specific instance of an entity has six characters in that specific attribute The remaining four characters are padded If the attribute is defined as a varchar(10), then there will be only six actual characters stored The n prefix specifies that the data is being stored in a Unicode format Unicode is an international, platform-agnostic specification for the storage of character data Using Unicode allows systems that work with characters from multiple languages to have a common storage format that can be read by any other system using the Unicode specification If you need to store anything beyond basic ASCII text, you will need to have a Unicode data type The primary difference between Unicode and non-Unicode systems is that Unicode requires two bytes of physical storage for every character stored; non-Unicode systems generally use only one byte (sometimes more than one byte is needed when you start storing variable-length data) The problem with using only one byte for character storage is that one byte cannot adequately store certain character data, such as Japanese Kanji or Korean Hangul characters Obviously, there are storage and performance trade-offs involved here, and they are covered in more depth in 3
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Attributes
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For now, keep in mind that Unicode may be required based on the character data you are storing
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Numeric data is any data that needs to be stored as numerals You can perform calculations on all the numeric data types The general types of numeric data are integer, decimal, money, float, and real Integer data is stored as any whole number It can store positive and negative numbers and generally comes in different sizes to accommodate the values needed Decimals are numbers stored to the scale and precision specified Scale in this case refers to the total number of numerals that are stored in the field, and precision refers to the number of those numerals stored to the right of the decimal point Money is for the storage of currency and is accurate to different degrees based on the RDBMS being used Float is an approximate number data type for use with floatingpoint data values This is generally stored in scientific notation, and a designator can be specified with this data type that describes the number of bits that are used to store the number Real is nearly identical to float; however, float can hold larger values As with the alphanumeric data types, the specific information regarding the physical storage of these data types is covered in 3
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